Carlton County Board hires consultants for proposed justice center

To ensure the county is moving in the right direction, in terms of architecture and policy at the proposed justice center, the county has hired a policy analyst to assist in the process, as well as a consultant for the female offender program.

File: Carlton County Jail aerial
The Carlton County Courthouse (left) and jail in Carlton. Steve Kuchera / 2019 file / Pine Journal

The Carlton County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a three-part contract at a total cost of $111,000 for a policy analyst for the proposed justice center at their Monday, Oct. 25, meeting.

Jail administrator Paul Coughlin introduced the proposal during the committee of the whole meeting Oct. 18.

Coughlin said as part of the contract with Research Design Solution LLC, an analyst would review all jail policies and assist with the design of the proposed justice center. Funding for the consultant would come out of the $2 million the county has received from the state for the project.

“To have a policy analyst make sure it’s not just us reviewing our own policies, but we are looking at standards that are state-driven,” he said.

With the proposed justice center being an entirely new facility for the county, Coughlin said it is important to have improved policies that are tailored to the new facility rather than exclusively building off old ones.



  • Annexation process for Carlton County Justice Center moves forward The City of Carlton voted Oct. 13 to approve the annexation of land in the Twin Lakes Township to be used for the site of the new Carlton County justice Center.
  • Consultant lays out financing options for Carlton County Justice Center The Carlton County Board of Commissioners and county staff learned more about options for financing the justice center project.

Voters will decide whether to fund construction of the facility in 2022 when they consider a local option sales tax.
The policy analyst proposal includes three phases, one for each year starting in 2021. The first phase includes planning and drafting between the county and policy advisor, which will result in a draft policy and procedure manual for the justice center, along with training materials. The first phase would cost $34,400.

The second phase, scheduled for 2022, would include workshops and reviewing the draft of the justice center plans, and would cost the county $54,400.

The final phase, scheduled for 2023, would include finalized training materials, as well as integration with the scheduled construction of the justice center, and would cost the county $22,200.

The consultant would also assist with the design of the project in order for every aspect of the project to work together.

“If we do not consider our policies as we do our work we are likely to have a facility that then fights a little bit as far as our daily operations,” Coughlin said. “We've got to make sure the function of the facility follows the form on how we plan on using it.”

With the construction of a completely new facility, there would be no current staff who understand how it works, or what the best practices are. The policy review and training are aimed to help get staff off and running once the facility is constructed and opened, he said.

“The procedures in the new facility will look very different than our current facility, so even though someone may have 20 years of experience working at the Carlton County Jail, everyone is going to have one day of experience as soon as we open the facility and move into it,” Coughlin said.


There also aren't enough staff members available now to dedicate them to plan for a transition and assist with policy planning.

“We do not have a lot of excess staff right now that we can just task with this work,” Coughlin said. “By having a consultant do some of this work and get it to use, we would then have our training sergeant take a look at it and learn with (the consultant) and provide it to our staff.”

Coughlin said the cost of hiring a consultant would save the county money, as the consultant is one person, compared to three staff members working on the same plans. Hiring a consultant also means officials would be working with someone who has more experience working with a transition and developing new procedures.

The only discussion from the board was a question about how the analyst would be funded. The commissioners unanimously approved the contract.

With commissioners' approval, the consultant can start the planning process for the project. Coughlin said he plans to meet with the analyst before Dec. 3.

Female offender program

During the meeting, the board also approved a contract with The Carey Group, another consultant to help with planning for the female offender program in proposed justice center.

The contract has a cost not to exceed $11,250 for a total of 60 hours of work. It would also be funded through the $2 million pot of money from the state.

As officials look at who could go into a female offender program and how the program would be managed, the consultant would look at the administrative aspects, as no one employed by the county has the knowledge to do it.


"This is just an outside (set) of eyes to make sure we don't end up off track on our work that we are doing," Coughlin said.

Dylan covers the local governments of Cloquet and Carlton County, as well as the Esko and Wrenshall school boards for the Cloquet Pine Journal.
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